The world of IT services companies and consulting firms is punctuated by competing projects, tight deadlines and constant pressure to deliver real added value... because the competition is fierce. Optimized processes for resource management and resource planning become essential to cope with all these constraints.
Resource planning is a step in resource management, and aims to allocate available resources (staff, budget, technologies, etc.) to different missions in the fairest and most informed way possible. This management method enables you to anticipate changing needs, thus increasing your chances of allocating resources optimally.
In this article, we take a closer look at what resource planning is and how to implement it in your company.
Resource planning can be divided into two stages:
Anticipation is the key word when it comes to resource planning. Long before a project begins, resource planning involves identifying future needs, whether in terms of specific skills, technologies or availability. The analysis must be multidimensional.
Let's take the example of a connected watch project for a company specializing in the development of healthcare applications. Before embarking on the project, you need to ask yourself a number of questions.
Does the company have a sufficient number of developers familiar with the specifics of connected watches (skills)? Do they have the right tools, licenses and operating systems, or are investments required (technologies)? Are these resources available for the duration of the project (availability)?
Based on this essential pre-analysis, the company can then proceed to allocate resources to the various projects. You can immediately spot potential conflicts, for example if a project manager finds himself straddling several assignments.
Even with perfect planning, adjustments are inevitable. That's why it's called strategic planning: to deploy a resilient process capable of adapting rapidly to change.
In our example, an application development project may be held up by bugs that are difficult to resolve. The company may therefore need to temporarily deploy additional resources (such as an expert developer) to meet deadlines and avoid overloading other projects.
This requires and ideally real-time notification. Continuous feedback and regular check-ins with teams help identify problems before they become critical.
As projects are completed, IT services companies can measure the efficiency of their process, and even predict trends. For example, they may notice that certain projects are systematically under-staffed, or that certain times of the year are conducive to a surplus of work. The company can anticipate rush periods by providing the appropriate resources.
In order to control schedule management and resource allocation, IT services companies and consulting firms can make use of the tools and methods described below.
There are several ways to make your resource planning a success.
One of the best known is the Gantt chart. This organization provides an overview of projects(deadlines, collaborators involved, objectives, completion times, etc.).
The PERT diagram(Program Evaluation Review Technique) diagram identifies the tasks that are essential for meeting deadlines. This enables you to prioritize tasks and projects - an essential part of resource planning!
These methods offer undeniable advantages. They provide managers and consultants with a common file for optimal management. The tools are readily available: there are many free templates to download for the Excel spreadsheet.
As practical as these solutions are, they are not without their faults. Data entry errors and version conflicts can seriously hamper project management. The greater the number of users (team leaders, collaborators, etc.), the greater the risk of error.
Excel-based resource planning may be suitable for small companies, but it quickly becomes impractical and counter-productive as projects pile up and teams grow.
For IT services companies and consulting firms, we therefore recommend opting for a dedicated resource management tool.
A resource planning tool such as Napta enables you to manage your resource planning more efficiently, for the simple reason that some of the software's functions have been designed and built specifically for this task.
The scope covered is far more extensive than the various free diagrams and templates. The solution integrates numerous variables, such as employee occupancy rates. This gives you a more holistic and detailed view, enabling you to better optimize your teams' TACE (Taux d'Activité Congés Exclus).
In your search for resource planning software, make sure that it offers core functions such as :
Thanks to these different functions, you can efficiently link resources to the various projects in progress.
You also benefit from SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) operation. Unlike decentralized files and software, the resource planning solution is available in the Cloud. Any changes made are updated in real time for all employees.
Teams and managers therefore have a uniform view of current projects and the resources required. Information flows smoothly, ensuring that all stakeholders are kept abreast of all changes.
A centralized SaaS solution also has the advantage of being regularly updated by the software publisher (adding new functions, regulatory compliance, etc.).
To manage the various projects entrusted to them, IT services companies must deploy a variety of resources. Staff, equipment and technology, budget: these are all variables to be taken into account.
Within resource management, resource planning is therefore a critical business process. Over- or under-allocation of resources can lead to delays and errors, damaging the productivity, profitability and reputation ofIT services companies or the consulting firm.
Tooptimize your resource allocation, you can use various diagrams (Gantt, PERT, etc.) that can be modeled in Excel. This is a good way to get started, but it soon has its limitations, such as the risk of errors.
Resource planning software such as Napta is therefore highly recommended. Particularly suited to large teams, this solution offers a complete, detailed view of each project and the resources allocated, or to be allocated.
Would you like to find out more? We've got plenty of resources to help you go further.
To complement this topic, read our white paper "Which metrics should you follow to manage your assignment and improve your decision-making?
See also our guides, templates and checklists in the Resources tab.
See you soon at Napta!